Athletes who use ballfields in Eastside, McMahon and Ahlschlager parks will be seeing better playing surfaces in the near future.
The Lawton Youth Sports Trust Authority voted Thursday to award a $64,765 contact to United Turf and Track to restore nine fields in the three parks. The Arcadia, Oklahoma, firm was one of two entities submitting bids on a project that trust authority members said is designed to provide enough play-worthy fields to support the teams this year. The City Council voted last month to allocate $100,000 for the work.
That work will be focused on fields 1 and 3 in Eastside Park; fields 3, 4 and 5 in McMahon Park; and fields 4, 5, 6 and 7 in Ahlschlager Park. The upgrade isn’t the only work to be done on the fields: trust authority members also awarded a contract for fertilizing and weed control once upgrades are completed.
“It’s a start,” said Trust Authority Chairman Brian Henry, of what his board envisions as the beginning of a program by Eastern Sports Management to systematically upgrade athletic facilities as they continue to expand participation in the youth and adult sports programs taken over from the City of Lawton.
Henry said the level of work needed for upgrades is pretty much the same on all nine fields.
What the work entails
That work includes an application of between 40 and 70 yards of infield mix, a mixture of soil and seed that will restore playing surfaces. Other tasks includes setting home plates, pitching and base anchors, edging fields and rough grades, lip removal, and cleanup and applying new surfaces. While sports authority members ultimately plan to upgrade all the fields, Ward 8 Councilman Randy Warren (a member of the trust authority) said officials want to start by upgrading just enough fields to support play today. Doing more than is needed means fields will set unused, Warren said.
Henry said local landscaping companies didn’t bid on the project because it is beyond their scope, requiring specialized equipment. Matt Elliott, sports manager for Eastern Sports Management, said the winning firm will bring in a special machine that pulls up the existing dirt, refines it to remove debris, then mixes it with new dirt so the entire mixture can be relaid. Henry said once those upgrades are complete, landscaping firms can assume responsibility for routine maintenance such as weed control, fertilizing and mowing.
Henry said the $9,200 maintenance contract awarded Thursday to Lawton Termite and Pest Control requires three sprays for weeds and three fertilizer applications in the next year.
Elliott said the field upgrades can be done before the summer season starts.
“We are hoping to do it before spring (play) ends,” he said.
Eastern Sports Management analyzed the fields earlier this year, then identified firms they said could rebuild the fields, returning them to top playing condition so a landscaper then could handle routine maintenance. Henry said in April that the nine fields chosen for upgrades will support sports participation in the coming year, but officials hope they will be enough for the next year’s play. They aren’t as certain about that second year, Henry said. If participation numbers continue trending upward as they are now (40 percent in the last two seasons), more fields may have to be addressed.
The largest component of the upgrade is adding the infield mix, 60 yards for the two fields at Eastside Park, 70 yards at the three McMahon Park fields, and 40 for the fields at Ahlschlager Park. United Turf and Track set a price of $7,745 per field at Eastside, $5,940 at Ahlschlager and $8,505 at McMahon.